I will not rest until I have you holding a Coke, wearing your own shoe, playing a Sega game featuring you, while singing your own song in a new commercial, starring you, broadcast during the Superbowl, in a game that you are winning…
As kids we’re taught that the way to win a staring contest is to not blink. We’re supposed to keep our eyes open longer than our opponent and not blink. But, have you ever considered that if no one blinks, both players lose? I mean sure, by the technical rules of the game, no one is a winner, but if no one is a winner then, aren’t both players losers? Watch this parody of commentators covering a Staring Contest “event” and then try to tell me both players aren’t losers if neither blinks.
The other night I voluntarily watched, in the theater, Something Borrowed. If you haven’t seen it, you really should. It’s well scripted, with witty dialogue and an outstanding performance by John Krasinksi. There’s a great many themes, but one of the most important, I think, is the the least discussed or acknowledged: The Staring Contest. In the movie, we have two people who want to be together. They deserve one another. They should be together. But, neither has the confidence to express their feelings to the other. This leads to both characters being miserable with other people, instead of being happy with each other. Neither character wanted to blink. Neither wanted to make the first move. Tragic.
Sometimes you have to think about things in a different light. I try to do this all the time. Maybe too much. But, I think I’m on to something in this case. Have you been out with a group of friends when the topic for where to eat comes up? Have you been part of the misery that is, everyone not wanting to make a decision or a recommendation and instead electing to just be agreeable? Painful, right? That’s everyone choosing not to blink.
Blinking takes courage. It holds you accountable. You’re on record as being the person who blinked. Could this be why everyone middle school dances are always portrayed in movies as the girls on one of the gym and the boys on the other, with only a handful of couples in the middle? Rejection is certainly a deterrent from blinking. We fear rejection by default. We’re conditioned to be fearful of it. And why not? It stings.
In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Blink, he discussed at length, with great examples that our brains are smarter than we think. Our ability to make smart decisions quickly is there, but we’re conditioned not to make decisions quick because when we do they are considered rash and irresponsible. We applaud the person who takes a methodical approach to solving a problem or reaching an answer and we frown upon the person who is quick to arrive at an answer. There’s a litany of data that discusses the psychology of jurors and how even when they know “their answer” they deliberate longer so that they can feel better about the decision they arrive at.
But, the world needs blinkers. We need people are willing to take the lead, make a decision, be bold and go after what they want. Maybe, that’s why I love blinking so much. I love being on the offensive. Ironically, as I kid, I was also pretty awesome at playing the staring contest game. Guess, I’m just lucky!
In my all time favorite movie, Almost Famous, there’s a key scene where Russel and William are talking about “the buzz” that’s generated from music and why Russel is in love with “music.” As he describes, as written by Cameron Crowe:
But… it’s not what you put in, is it?
It’s what you leave out. Listen to… listen to Marvin Gaye…
A song like “What’s Going On.” That single “woo” at the end of the second verse – you know that woo – that single “woo.”
That’s what you remember. The silly things, the little things… there’s only one, and it makes the song.
It’s what you leave out. That’s rock and roll.
Take a walk with me for just a second…isn’t that the same thing you could say about a great campaign? It’s not what you put in, it’s what you leave out. How many times have you seen a campaign so stuffed with touch-points, collateral, key benefits and reasons to believe that the message…the one element so critical to the campaign, gets lost. And why is that message so critical? Because, the message (and I don’t just mean the copy) is what creates the emotional connection. The message needs to be simple. It needs to be palatable. It needs to be focused.
This is the reason Apple’s ads connect so well with consumers.
Apple fan or not, there’s no denying the power of that ad. The new “add-on” these days is social media. The first thing everyone wants to do is plug-in or bolt-on social media to a campaign. And why not? It’s easy to do and “everyone” is doing it. It’s all the rage, as the kids say! But, before you start adding Facebook, twitter, youTube, Posterous and all the other options out there to your campaign, make sure it’s going to add to the campaign, not take away from it. Sometimes, you might just find, if you want to connect, if you want the buzz, you’re better off leaving it out.
I’m a sucker for the movie Love Actually. It’s in my top 10 list. The writing, directing, acting, cinematography, costumes and the story line always keep me entertained. This is probably my favorite scene from the movie. It’s ballsy, honest and the pure definition of the grand gesture.
The other night I couldn’t sleep. So i started flipping through the channels and landed on a movie that’s always perplexed me: Indecent Proposal. If you read any review or synopsis of the movie, the plot line is essentially love vs. money. We love to think that love conquers money. We love to believe that passion and emotion trump cold hard cash. We believe it, because it’s a nice sentiment.
The Beatles of course challenged that idea with the song titled “Money,” in which they wrote “The best things in life are free. But you can keep ‘em for the birds and bees. Now give me money, (that’s what I want) that’s what I want.” Money is a seductive and powerful influencer. It makes people do silly things.
In the movie Indecent Proposal a man is offered $1,000,000 for one night with his wife by a billionaire. Now let me be clear, one night does not equal sex. It simply means one night. I’ll spare you all the details of the movie, but I do want to hit on the key portions of the story that have always left me perplexed:
1. They agree to offer
2. The man making the proposal makes it clear to the wife that nothing will happen that she doesn’t want to happen
3. She ends up sleeping with him
4. The married couple divorce because the husband can’t get past the fact his wife slept with another man
5. The wife ends up dating the guy who made the proposal
6. They break up because the guy who made the proposal realizes, “she never would have looked at me like she did him”
7. The husband and wife get back together because the husband realizes “…that the things that people in love do to each other, they remember. And if they stay together, it’s not because they forget. It’s because they forgive.”
Ok here is why I’m perplexed…we love to take sides in movies. We love to choose person A over B. A good movie sucks you in, creates the emotional connection, and makes your brain hurt because the choices are difficult. Publications like The New York Times reviewed this movie when it came out over a decade ago. Their reviews depicted the difficulty in choosing sides between the husband and the wife. Was the husband to blame because he agreed to let his wife spend the night with the billionaire? Was the woman to blame for agreeing to spend the night and then subsequently sleeping with the billionaire? I kid you not, pundits, reviewers and critics have debated this topic.
So why am I perplexed? Because I see this as really simple. The wife is to blame. Not only did she agree to spend the night, but she made the choice to sleep with the billionaire. She did both of these with her own free will. I wont even touch the whole decision to then divorce her husband (she filed) and date the billionaire. The husband was a saint for somehow staying in love with her, fighting for her after he lost her and then of course taking her back.
She chose money twice over love…
I don’t get it? Why is it so simple for me? What am I missing? Help me out.
Last night I saw, Wall Street – Money Never Sleeps. I’ve been looking forward to this for some time. I was a big fan of the original Wall Street movie and was chomping at the bit to see Michael Douglas reprise his role as Gordon Gekko. I won’t ruin the movie for you and give away secrets, but I will tell you that there is a profound scene in which Gordon Gekko explains that time, not money is the most valuable currency.
Of late, I’ve been thinking the same thing. If you really think about it, time is the one thing that every day we get less of. It’s a rapidly depreciating asset that we aren’t even control of. It’s tragic really that we don’t value something like time more than cars, jewelry, HD TVs and of course money. All of those and more can easily be added to, replaced and in some cases they can appreciate in value. Nope, not time. If you store it, unlike money, you lose it. If you waste it, you can’t earn it back. Time is ultimately invaluable.
The president of our agency, Michele Fabrizi, often challenges me and our Sr. leadership staff with an important question. If you only had 2 hours in a day, how would you spend that time to drive the agency forward. I won’t give way what I’d do here, but I can tell you that this concept works beyond the borders of our jobs. If all you had was 2 hours, how would you spend it? Would you really spend it shopping? Or watching TV? Or getting a manicure? Would you? I sure hope not, because all of those past times are wasted time.
Give some thought to the people that matter most in your life and the activities that make you happy. Those are the things worth those valuable 2 hours. Money, ultimately is insignificant unless you have none or you’re filthy rich. If you’re in between those two extremes, money is worth less than time. Why? Well, if you have no money and all of a sudden have several thousand, you won’t waste it on expensive meals, because you know what it’s like not to have any money. In effect, you’d treat every dollar very preciously. At the other end of the spectrum are people like Bill Gates. They have the luxury of being in complete control of how those 2 hours are spent, because everything is an option. For you and I, using those two hours to fly to another state would be impossible. For Bill, it’s possible with a simple phone call.
For all the rest of us in the middle, we spend most of our time chasing money instead of chasing moments. And I can tell you, from experience, all the money in the world doesn’t help you get back a missed moment.
A highly recommend the movie and recommend you think about the value of time:
“It’s only my job, it’s not my whole life.” Those are the words uttered more like a question than a statement, by Rachel McAdams in the trailer for the movie, Morning Glory. I’m not a Harrison Ford guy or a Diane Keaton fan. I’ve enjoyed Rachel McAdams’ work, but not enough to make me line up to see a movie she’s going to star in. But, I caught this trailer Friday night and was lured in by that line and the subsequent one delivered by Harrison Ford…
“I was never at home, when I was I took every phone call, watching TV out of the corner of my eye, let me tell you how it all turns out, you end up with nothing.”
I love my job. I love my career. I love what I get to do on a daily basis. But, over the last few years I’ve learned that you can’t let your job take over your life. When that happens, you have no life.
It works because it has to. It works because you want it to. It works because I need it to. It works because there’s so many reasons for it not to. It works because defying the odds is fun. It works because it’ll make for a great story…an epic one. It works, because I never fail…and now that I have, I won’t ever again.
My dad’s been railing on me for months to watch The Bucket List. Well tonight I finally watched it…it’s only been stuck on my tivo for the last 4 months. Of course I started creating my own bucket list, but then something occurred to me.
I don’t want a bucket list. I don’t want a list of things that I should have done when I was younger. I don’t want to be in a situation where I look back on my life with regret and wonder, “why didn’t I do this when I was 25.”
My goal is to not have a bucket list. My goal is to leave no stone unturned as I go through life. I want to knock off my bucket list as I get older, not while I’m staring down the last few days of a life not having worth lived.
As we ring in the new year…as we kick off 2010…as we start making resolutions and goals, stop putting things off. Stop thinking you’ll have time. Stop waiting for maybe some day. Start living the bucket list now.